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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

British trio reflect on their home race

A year ago he was the rising star, but disappointments in Montreal and Magny-Cours find Lewis Hamilton looking to get his sophomore campaign back on track as he enters his home race at Silverstone.

What a difference a year makes. In 2007, Hamilton came off of back to back wins in Montreal and Indianapolis which propelled him into the championship lead. His performance at last year’s British Grand Prix set the table for a run at the world championship which would of course fall just short of the mark.

This year Hamilton finds himself in fourth, ten points off the pace. But a win at Silverstone could conceivably put Hamilton back in the championship lead. For the McLaren driver, his home race also presents a bit of unfinished business.

“To get pole and have a podium finish [last year] was fantastic,” Hamilton told the Telegraph. “Leading the world championship in my first year was insane. Knowing how close I came last year makes me want it even more.”

Hamilton, for one, does not want Silverstone to lose this race.

“F1 would not be the same without Silverstone,” he said. “This is where it all started. If we were to lose it to another circuit that does not have any character or soul it would be a real shame.”

At 37, David Coulthard may be preparing for his final British Grand Prix, a race he won twice when he was with McLaren.

Outscored, and often outqualified, by teammate Mark Webber so far this season, the writing may well be on the wall for the Scot.

If so, DC has no fear of the possibility.

“There will naturally come a time when that's not going to continue - boo-hoo!” Eurosport reports Coulthard said. “There are a lot worse things that can happen to you, and you move on to the next challenge.”

Couthard continues to race, he says, because he continues to get a rush from it. No race fuels that passion like the one at Silverstone.

“Going down Hangar Straight to Stowe and you see the crowd standing at the side of the track, it is particularly special to Silverstone because it is a British crowd, you see the British flags, and the home of motorsport is in Britain,” he said.

While the Red Bull driver’s prospects for a podium seem slim, Couthard would love to find himself up there one more time.

“As for a podium, well, it would definitely be a great feeling. I really enjoyed being on the podium in Canada,” he said. “It was a great for me, great for the team. That might be our only opportunity this year given the current competitiveness of the car, but racing is racing and lots of things can happen.”

It has been eight years since a 20-year-old Jenson Button finished fifth in a Williams at his first British Grand Prix.

“It was spectacular, a great weekend,” PA Sport reports Button said. “I remember overtaking Michael (Schumacher) around the outside of turn one at one point, which was quite fun!”

Since then his career included struggles at Renault, contract disputes, and both success and failure at Honda. This year, unfortunately, has featured much of the latter.

“I've to wait a little bit longer to achieve that (a podium),” Button said, assessing his chances this year. “For sure last year was tough, and this year has been frustrating more than anything else, but I'm in a happy place, a good place at the moment.”

Button is hopeful changes in the regulations next year will shake the grid up a bit, and provide Honda an opportunity to move forward. Until then, he will remain realistic.

“You always want to do well in your home grand prix, and we might get some points, which will be a big bonus,” he said. “But I think I'm going to have to leave it to Lewis (Hamilton) to fight for the victory!”

It may not be Bernie Ecclestone’s favorite location, but for Button, Coulthard and Hamilton, Silverstone will always be special.

“There's always a great atmosphere there, so it's always a very special event for all the British drivers,” Button said.
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